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Time to Shore Up Your Security

The age of big data is so yesterday. This is the age of big data privacy.

Monday, January 28 is Data Privacy Day, an annual touch-base for industry players and Internet denizens alike to take stock in their security measures and ramp up their efforts.

Many may not have a choice: Last year, the EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the biggest evolution in data privacy regulation in decades. Coming on its heels is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA); effective next January, the act grants Golden State residents the right to discover what information about them is being collected by businesses. Clearly, privacy is being taken seriously by legislators. And for good reason; literally billions of user accounts have been compromised over the past few years, and consumers have had enough. In a ModSquad survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 70% of respondents reported being more concerned with how their information is handled by online services.

While it’s up to regulators to monitor company usage of our personal data, there are things we can do now to safeguard our vital information. These are good practices to undertake not just on Data Privacy Day, but always.

Update your system. This one’s a no-brainer, but too often we don’t bother updating our security software or ensuring we have the latest OS, browser, or app. That’s the easiest way to defend against malware and viruses. And don’t forget to keep your mobile devices up to date.

Make it impossible to pick your virtual locks. We’ve moved beyond “password1234” and even password managers. If you want to fortify your accounts, two-factor authentication is a must. You’ve likely encountered this in your online banking or financial services transactions. This requires a unique one-time code, sent to your device or email, to access your account. The next rung up the safety ladder is biometrics, including fingerprint- to iris-scanning technology.

Self-storage is a must. Ensure the security of your most vital documents by regularly backing them up. Whether you use a trusted cloud service for an annual fee or spring for an external hard drive (a better value, but with more limited access), maintaining an electronic archive of your critical data is imperative. If you don’t, and calamity strikes, it’s a mistake you won’t make twice.

Open with care. It’s worth repeating, since so many people still fall prey to phishing scams: Don’t open any suspicious files or links in emails, posts, ads, or attachments. Even if you know the sender, that harmless-looking message may have been spoofed. Tread carefully.

Protect your business. Your employer may have an IT department or security team looking out for the organization, but you can help by pitching in. If you bring your own device to work, ensure that any company or customer information is being properly accessed and safely stored. Keep up with the latest technologies and functions so you understand the strengths and risks of all programs with which you interact.

By making a conscious effort to ensure your data is safe from any nefarious activity, you’re doing your part to thwart cyber crime. Keeping your data private is a ongoing concern, both for companies and individuals, so incorporating these practices into our daily routines is a smart move.

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